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Do we really know what Grace is?

In the first of a special Christmas blog series, we look at understanding the concept of grace

I am privileged and blessed to say I grew up in a safe, loving, Christian home. I went to a Christian school, attended Vacation Bible School over the summers at my local church and was able to speak about the Lord freely with my Christian friends. Part of growing up in the church means I’m accustomed to hearing phrases, verses, stories, and more about the Bible and faith. “Have grace” was a popular one in our church world and it wasn’t until the beginning of 2020 where I began to understand the truth this word embodies and the weight of it.

Let’s begin by breaking down the word- the meaning of it and the significance. The word “grace” is spiritually defined as “the love and mercy given to us by God”. The supplemental part of the definition is the significance- “God desires us to have it, not necessarily because of anything we have done to earn it". It’s important to recognize grace was given to us. From the beginning of time, when God created us and the first humans sinned, he extended grace. He strengthened this and transformed the meaning of eternal grace when He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sins.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.”-Ephesians 2:8 (NIV)

Ephesians 2:8 reflects the “gift of God” and there is nothing we have or ever can do to earn this favor. Each and every day God chooses to extend grace to us because He loves us. God knows we are sinful. God sees when we choose to snap at our loved ones, when we sleep in and miss church, how we may gravitate towards the ways of the world versus His- yet still, he loves us and chooses to show us mercy and accept us as his children. While there are extremes for the reasons in which God shows us grace, I hope that we as a community, as humans, can remember just how precious this gift is- it is far greater than any vacation, new tech gadget, etc. Grace is the gift we use and can seek daily. 

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with prioritizing grace in my life. It does not come naturally to me, extending this to myself. While I find I can extend grace and understanding to others- friends, family, and even strangers- I struggle with remembering the gift of grace God has given me. Earlier in the year I connected with someone who relayed various phrases of “grace over it all”, “all with grace”, and “have grace”. He said this as frequently as one would sigh or say “oh my goodness”. At first I found this slightly annoying - how could there be so many situations needing “grace”? It seemed like an overkill. But through our friendship I learned that despite two decades of intimacy with the Lord, I did not know the meaning of grace; it’s just a word I was used to hearing.

Taking the initiative, I decided to dive deeper and begin my own journey of seeking grace. While I wish I could report how “I’ve mastered it'', I can’t. Grace is a lifelong journey and gift from the Lord. I am learning that grace appears in many forms. I encourage you to identify what grace looks like in your life. For example, when working on a project with the lockdown and then the new regulations, there were many setbacks creatively due to the new way of working. We would film content, have a hard drive crash, film content, and not like how it turned out. I placed so much pressure on myself to achieve “good” videos that I began losing sight of the grace in this project. Three location changes before we found the spot, a new camera, and a month later from the desired launch date and here we are. No, the process wasn’t what I planned for, but there was so much grace in it. There was grace in moving locations because a woman saw us filming and passed a note asking where she could find the videos. We wouldn’t have showed up in someone’s life if we were in our studio space filming. We had to adjust our launch date but were able to produce extra videos and lean into more of the spiritual component of this company and these videos. Our team’s communication, spiritual, and personal growth was challenged and we were able to keep our faith and eyes upon God during the times of frustration. Grace isn’t always convenient, but it is truly a gift worth giving and receiving.

If you’re struggling to identify where you can recognize and prayerfully improve welcoming grace into your life, perhaps these examples will help. For me, this looks like active gratitude. During all of the mishaps and frustrated moments, I identified the issue and thanked God for it. That may sound strange, but it helped my spirit feel more connected to God and helped me not fixate on what it is I could not do. When I had a hard drive crash, I thanked the Lord for the patience of my team member and her being calm, understanding, patient, and willing to re-film everything. When I realized there was no way to meet our original deadline, I thanked God for allowing more time to hear from Him and add to our content in order to pour into the spaces others are in need of and seeking. I thanked God for all of the mishaps and the spiritual warfare because I realized the reason all of this is happening is because the enemy sees how powerful this is and how purposeful this project is in leading others to God.

I found myself saying “thank you for blessing me with something honoring you and so powerful that the devil is scared enough to set roadblocks.” It was the moments of being able to identify gratitude that helped me to understand grace. Grace isn’t the wand of Cinderella’s fairy godmother. God doesn’t wave a wand turning our ragged clothing into a ball gown. Instead, grace shows up in our hearts and fills it with content, strength, and the characteristics of God. Grace helps us to identify what angers, saddens and disappoints us then helps us to let it go and not have those people, places, ideas, or things rule over us. Grace is the gateway in setting us free from earthly standards, expectations, and sin. God still loves us when we miss deadlines. God still loves us when we get into a fight with our loved ones- so, why is it at times so hard to forgive others or ourselves? It is in this space and under these circumstances where we need to invite God to reveal grace to us and when that happens, be willing to receive it.

FOR REFLECTION:

How do you practice grace?

What does grace look like in your life?

What is one area in your life you can practice embracing and extending grace?

Read more from Macaila Britton at MacailaBritton.com and look out for the next instalment of this Christmas holiday series.

Photo by mentatdgt from Pexels

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